Friday, April 21, 2017

Weekend Reading: The Trying to Rally Edition

I'm planning to go to my local science march tomorrow. I'm sure I'll be glad once I get there, but right now, my main emotion about this is resentment. I don't want to have to march to defend science. It is my wedding anniversary, and instead of doing something nice with my husband, I am sticking him with the Saturday gymnastics classes so that I can go march. It seems ridiculous to have to march to say "we should let facts inform our opinions, not the other way around," but here we are.

I also don't want to have to make phone calls and send faxes to insist that the people in power take the conflicts of interest in this administration and the Russian interference in our election seriously. Some seriously sketchy and not at all normal stuff is going on, and I don't know if its goal is to make the Trump family money or to advance Putin's interests or both. It seems I shouldn't have to exert so much pressure to get this investigated.

I don't want to have to make another round of phone calls against the latest disaster of a health care "plan" from the Republicans. I don't want to have to make phone calls against the stupid wall. I hate that I worry about sending a letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security protesting the deportation of a young man with DACA protection. I'll probably do it, but my husband's renewed green card hasn't come in the mail yet, so maybe I should just avoid drawing attention to us, instead. I hate that this thought even crosses my mind.

And I am well and truly tired of being sanctimoniously exhorted to feel empathy for the voters who put us in this mess. My empathy store is a little depleted right now.

I know I need to get over myself and keep working for what is right. And I will. I will rally and go to the march tomorrow. I will rally and make my phone calls/send my faxes next Wednesday. I will keep going. But every now and then, I will feel some resentment that I have to spend my time on this.

All of which has nothing to do with today's links.

I think Jamelle Bouie's take on the recent special elections is good.

David Fahrenthold talks about three ways in which what he learned from reporting on Donald Trump's charity giving foreshadowed Trump's behavior as president.

Here's an alternative vision for the border region just east of Otay Mesa. I know there must be some people in San Diego who support the wall, but I haven't run into them. Even the people who want stronger border enforcement think the wall won't work, and want the money spent in other ways.

Caroline Criado-Perez has a good post about Fearless Girl and the reaction of the guy who created the charging bull statue. No, really, read it even if you're sick of that whole discussion.

The Handmaid's Tale is a warning for conservative women. This article got shared out by Margaret Atwood herself, which was pretty cool. It touches on one of the issues I've long had with women who lead campaigns in defense of "traditional values" like women being housewives. They have a career: they speak and write and have a space outside their home. But they would deny it to me. Sarah Jones, the author of the article, comes from a conservative Christian background, and she understands and explains it better than I do. If for no other reason, this article is worth your time.

(I have one point of disagreement: I do think it is possible to be anti-abortion and a feminist, but I think the people who claim to be rarely follow through on what would be required to truly be a feminist. To me, a feminist has to want women to have the same chance at self-fulfillment as men. That is only possible if a reproductive accident will not derail our lives. Access to abortion is one way to make that possible. But there are other ways. Better maternity leave, more cultural support for and less discrimination against mothers in the workplace, better child care subsidies for people who need them.... If you are opposed abortion but still consider yourself a feminist, I think you need to spend some time thinking about how to make a world in which abortion would not feel so necessary to so many women. I don't see a lot of that work being done, to be honest, but then again, I haven't gone in search of it. I suspect there are pockets of people thinking like this in the anti-abortion movement, but right now, they are utterly drowned out by the "a woman's place is in the home" crowd.)

Moving on from the contentious issues....

This is an interesting history of the pursuit of happiness.

Speaking of happiness... We have a lot of stuff, and it seems to be stressing us out, not making us happy, particularly if we are women. This is probably why that Kondo method was popular: it promised a way to get rid of stuff.

And here's something that did make me happy: A nice post from Margaret Redlich, the author of Don't Call It Bollywood, about the history of dancing in films (US and Indian).

Kelly J. Baker wrote a really nice essay about quitting.

Warning: this language guessing game is a huge time sink.

BUNNY!




That's it for this week. If you're marching tomorrow, I hope you have a good time!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Working around the Barriers

I had lunch with an old grad school friend today. It was great to see her, and as always, lunch with a friend did me good.

But there was an undertone of... I don't know what. Sadness? Anger? Frustration?... too. Every time I meet up with a woman friend who is in my generation, I hear about how sexism and gender bias are blocking her progress. This is not because my friends are whiners, or prone to looking for something external to blame for their problems. In fact, the stories usually come out as an aside, to explain a change in course. She was working her way around a barrier, and that barrier was usually a man. If it wasn't a man, it was multiple men.

I am not exaggerating when I say that I've heard a variation of this story at least 10 times in the last year. It is demoralizing to think about this in the aggregate. So much talent being thwarted.

But I'll say this for us: we're all finding a way around. A lot of us won't get what we originally set our sights on, but we're all getting pretty good lives. So that's something.

The other heartening thing is that we're helping each other find our new paths. On my more optimistic days, I think that in another 10 years, I'll look at what my group of friends has accomplished and be amazed. We will have built an alternate universe of success.

On my less optimistic days, I think we are doomed to achieve less than our potential. We will salvage good lives from the wreckage of our ambitions, but we will always know we could have done more.

Probably, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

I see signs of hope. Not in millennial men. Sorry, some of them are awesome. So are some GenX men. So are some Boomer men. But my own experience has shown me that younger men can be just as sexist as their elders. In fact, sometimes they are more sexist because they haven't met the woman who will teach them to be better yet. Seriously, just look at Silicon Valley.

No, I see signs of hope in women. Just as we are individually finding our ways around the barriers in our careers, we are collectively looking for ways around the barriers. I hope that we remember to go back and dismantle those barriers where we can. Because my daughters and their friends are coming behind us. When I sit and watch my daughters' gymnastics class, I am in awe of the joy and strength of the girls out on that floor. I want a world where that joy and strength—and joy in strength—can continue into adulthood. When I went to watch my daughter's spelling bee, I was thrilled to see the kids supporting each other, cheering for each other. Boys and girls cheered for and high-fived their classmates, even when they were clearly disappointed not to be the one still in the running. I see my friends working to raise their sons to be just as feminist as their daughters, and I think, maybe we can fix this. Not for our generation, but for the next one.

I think my generation will be a generation of women who mostly had to find their way around the barriers. What keeps me going is the thought that maybe I can help bring some of those barriers down for my daughters.

So, here's to lunch with friends. And here's to finding our way around the barriers. But also: here's to finding a way to break those damn barriers down.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Trip Story: Santa Monica

We took a little trip up the coast for spring break this year, stopping for a couple of nights in Santa Monica and then three nights in Santa Barbara. Neither location was new to us, but our kids had never been to Santa Monica, and neither really remembers our last visit to Santa Barbara. I thought I'd write about the entire trip in one post, but I ran out of steam, so this is just about Santa Monica.

We set out mid-morning on Tuesday, and stopped for lunch at Irvine Spectrum and some play time at Heritage Park in Irvine. Then we got back in the car and drove to the first real stop of our trip: Randy's Donuts!

The doughnut promised land.
For those who aren't familiar with this SoCal landmark, I'll just say that it is so famous that one of the kids at our school built a model of it for his "California Landmarks" project.

The doughnuts were pretty good. They have all three types of doughnuts: cake, glazed, and (my favorite) old-fashioned. I'm not sure I'd go out of my way to visit again, but I'm more of an ice cream person than a doughnut person.

After our pit stop, we drove on to our hotel in Santa Monica, which was a surprisingly quirky Days Inn. It had a bit of an art deco vibe and a rooftop sun deck with plaques naming US presidents. It also had a comfortable room and an OK free breakfast, so I have no complaints.

For the first evening, we headed down to Venice. We wanted to show our kids the canals. It happened that my parents (who were meeting up with us in Santa Barbara) were in Santa Monica that night, too, in a hotel just a few blocks from ours. So we all headed to Venice. We parked near Mother's Beach in Marina del Rey, and let the kids have a short play on the playground. Then we walked into Venice and strolled the canals.

Unfortunately, we happened to be there during one of the times in which they drain the canals (to keep the water from getting stagnant), so the canals weren't quite as impressive as we remembered from earlier visits. But they were still a nice place to stroll, and the kids liked looking at the different houses along the paths.

Usually, there is more water.
We had dinner at C&O Trattoria, which is a very family friendly place noted for an unlimited supply of garlic knots (which, to our surprise, both of our kids liked) and for the sing along to That's Amore. We managed to hang on just long enough to see the sing along (some of us even participated), and then we walked back to our car.

The next day, my parents headed to The Getty. We had considered going there, too, but decided our kids would enjoy it more in a few years. Instead, we headed to the Santa Monica pier to be stereotypical tourists.

We got to the pier waaaay too early. Our kids start their days at 7 a.m., if we're lucky enough to get a little bit of a sleep in. So we were down to the pier not long after 9. Nothing much was open there until 10, and the amusement park wasn't open until 11.... so we walked a short way to the original muscle beach location. Petunia liked the tall swings, and Pumpkin had fun climbing the ropes and trying her hand at the rings. 

Harder than it looks
Between muscle beach, the arcade, and just strolling the pier, we killed enough time to be able to go on a couple of rides at the amusement park. The kids chose the Ferris wheel and the bungee/trampoline thing. 

The view from the Ferris wheel. We had lunch at the place with the yellow roof.
They'd have done more, but we didn't want to spend that much, and anyways, it was time for lunch. The Mexican place at the end of the pier was not bad at all, which is surprising for a restaurant that can rely on its location for a constant stream of customers. After lunch, we walked out to the waves and the kids had fun getting their feet wet. We only pulled them away from the beach with a promise of more beach time once we got to Santa Barbara. 

Happy children. And a bear. Petunia wore her bear a lot this trip.
We also strolled Colorado Street. Petunia was impressed with the dinosaur fountains. Pumpkin wanted to get a treat, but I held her off with a promise of ice cream at a really good place I remembered in Santa Monica Place mall. But that ice cream shop was gone, so we had frozen yogurt at a pretty average place instead. Then we walked over to Tongva Park because we wanted to see it and because we thought the kids could use some playground time.  It is a nice park, but I didn't take any nice pictures there, so you'll just have to take my word for it..

After some park time, we went back to our hotel for a bit, then headed out again in the car. We were meeting friends in Encino for dinner. Although Encino is quite close to Santa Monica, there is no good route there at rush hour. (Really: go to Google Maps and check how long it takes to drive between Santa Monica and Encino at 5 p.m. on a weekday, and then check it again at 10 p.m.. If you've never understood why people complain about LA traffic, this will probably make it clear.)

Our plan was to leave early and drive over to Westwood and then up to Mulholland Drive. We'd then drive along Mulholland and down into Encino. This worked... sort of. There was a lot of traffic along Wiltshire until we got past the 405 and the kids got impatient in the back seat. Then Google Traffic showed an accident on our route up to Mulholland, so I rerouted us on the fly... right into Bel Air. I half expected to be blocked by a gate, but we were not. And to my surprise, the kids LOVED this detour. They were really impressed with the big fancy houses, and happily pointed out which ones they'd like to own as we worked our way through Bel Air and Beverly Glen up to Mulholland. Then we managed to miss every single scenic pullout on Mulholland, and just drove along it and then down into Encino, again through a neighborhood of very nice houses. 

Dinner in Encino was delightful. It was great to catch up with our friends. And by the time we were done with dinner, traffic had cleared, and we could take the direct route back to the hotel. 

All in all, it was a nice short visit to one of the most tourist-friendly parts of LA. The next day, we got up and headed north to Malibu... but I'll pick that up some other time. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Weekend Reading: The Catching Up Edition

I've had a pretty good week, work-wise, and am almost caught up again. If I get a good Sunday morning work session, I should be set. (For those who don't know: I "trade" some work time on Sunday mornings for a Friday afternoon rollerblade, which I am just back from. The bay path is less crowded on Friday afternoons, and if I schedule writing work for Sunday mornings I rather enjoy settling in with my tea to do some work while the kids have a lazy morning, so this is a win-win arrangement for me.)

I am over the cold I caught on spring break, but still sniffly because there are wildflowers everywhere. I cannot remember another year like this for wildflowers. All open space is awash in color, mostly yellow, but with some splashes of pink/purple and orange. It is really pretty, but my allergies are going berserk. Then yesterday, I made them worse by pulling out a bunch of wild grass that was growing in our native landscaped front yard. There is more to pull, but I think I'll leave that for Mr. Snarky. He doesn't have a grass allergy!

Anyhow, let's get to the links.

I didn't save many links about politics. I'm still following what is going on, but maybe I have a bit of fatigue on the topic. I will re-up my recommendation of Talking Points Memo for a good round up of the most important stories of the day, along with some smart analysis (with a left of center tilt). I've found Josh Marshall's analysis of the Russia story particularly helpful. He's not prone to exaggeration, and is good and pulling together the strands from the reporting at the "big" places. Here is his latest on that topic, so you can see what I mean.

This story about the closing of hospitals in rural Tennessee highlights one of my problems with running health care as a for profit enterprise: just because there isn't a profit to be made in some location, that doesn't mean there isn't a need there.

The different standard women who run for office must meet.

Sesame Street has introduced a muppet with autism, Julia. Vox reporter Dylan Matthews, who has autism, wrote a really good piece about why this matters and why the particular way in which they introduced Julia is so important.

GoGoGrandparent sounds like a promising idea, really poorly implemented.

Sady Doyle considers that maybe women don't need to apologize less. Maybe men need to apologize more. Really, this one is worth reading just for the phrase "critical apology failure."

Read about Pauli Murray, the Civil Rights and women's rights activist who gets left out of a lot of our stories about those movements.

Kameron Hurley's post about trying to be a pro writer while also having a full time day job really resonated with me, even though I'm not trying to be a pro writer. One of the things that my current work arrangement makes possible is for me to focus on multiple career interests without courting burnout. I'm very grateful for that.

Jenna Price's 60th birthday note to her 30 year old self is wonderful.

Women surgeons are replicating a New Yorker cover and it is awesome.

This bunny reminds me of the pet bunny I had for the longest period of time.




Happy weekend, everyone!

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Sunday Night Existential Whimper

I swear I'll write up our spring break trip, because it was a fun trip and I like to write trip story posts, dammit.

But it isn't going to happen tonight. Nor am I going to write a glowing ode to my oldest child, who somehow is now 10 years old, although she deserves one.

Instead, I'm going to whine about how this week just kicked my butt. Re-entry from a vacation is always hard. Re-entry from a vacation when you've caught a cold at the tail end of that vacation is especially hard. Add in a kid's birthday, a spelling bee, and a birthday party you've foolishly agreed to host at your house instead of one of the many locations that will run the damn party for you, and you have a recipe for exhaustion.

Plus, I had a fun little tax-related panic that ate up a significant amount of work time on Friday.

So, what I'm saying is: I am behind on EVERYTHING. I am considering, for the first time in my life, sending out a blanket "yes, I owe you a response on something but it won't come for another week" sort of email.

We'll see how long it takes me to finish unwinding the tax panic tomorrow. (The panic, for anyone who is curious, stemmed from me putting my SEP-IRA contributions in the wrong place on the questionnaire I filled out for my accountant, who thought I'd paid them as a person and not as a business, which was therefore going to require classifying some of my income as "self employment income," thereby necessitating payment of the self-employment tax on said income, rather than having all my income be either salary I paid myself (and therefore paid social security taxes on) or profit. This may seem like a small thing to you, but this was going to add a lot of money to our tax bill and for the period of time in which I thought the problem was the SEP-IRA that I'd opened and not my putting it on the wrong questionnaire I felt like an absolute idiot and thought that maybe I shouldn't be trying to run a company at all if I couldn't even get a retirement account opened without screwing things up.)

Anyhow, that's all sorted now, but we still owe an alarming sum in taxes. We sat down tonight to figure out why, and it is because my husband got a raise and my business made more money in 2016 vs. 2015 and we withheld/paid estimated taxes assuming the 2015 amount. OOPS. But not really something to complain about. We're going to adjust our withholding this year, and hopefully not face another big bill next year.

I will say, though, that for the first time ever, I sort of resent paying my taxes. I don't want to pay for a stupid border wall or security for Melania Trump so she can live in NYC and avoid her husband or, for that matter, for that husband to keep jetting off to the private club he owns in Florida. I will happily pay my taxes to fund Meals on Wheels and the EPA and the NIH and the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities. Happily. But the graft and waste going on in this administration is making the tax bill hurt more.

Speak of stupid border walls... Mr. Snarky took Pumpkin to pick out a piñata for her birthday party. He went to a local store that specializes in piñatas instead of just going to Party City or the like. She picked out a nice big music note, but she came home and told me about another piñata she saw: it was made to look like a big, brick wall and it had Trump's face on it. Clever.

And speaking of Pumpkin: it is a delight to watch her grow up. She stepped in to help smooth things over during Saturday's party when there was a kerfuffle between the big kids (her friends) and the little kids (Petunia and her friends) about time in the jumpy. In the end, I think all of the kids had a great time at the party, and this is the first year where Pumpkin really helped make that happen. She came in third at the 4th grade spelling bee. She went out because she didn't understand the word as the pronouncer said it (and I won't go into details, but he did mispronounce it), but she took this without drama. She loves to read, so much so that most of her friends gave her either books or Barnes and Noble gift cards for her birthday and she was thrilled by that. I could go on and on, but I said I wasn't going to write a glowing ode to her. I will just say that getting to watch you children turn into people you don't just love but are proud of is one of the great joys of parenthood.

Petunia is pretty great, too. She and her little friends decided to do a science experiment during the party. She got out her beakers and set up to do an experiment to find out which things float and which things sink in water. She wrote up the design and was ready to record the data, but they got distracted by the discovery that some types of beads float and others sink, and ended up just filling lots of bowls with water to play with beads. I couldn't even be mad about the mess, really, because it was ridiculously cute to watch them.

So, in summary: vacations are great, but re-entry is hard. Taxes are a pain, but all things considered, I'd rather make the money and owe the taxes than not make the money. And kids are delightful, but birthday parties are exhausting.

I'll write more once I'm caught up on things!

Friday, April 07, 2017

Weekend Reading: The Trying Not to Hate Everything Edition

I'm super stressed out right now because I'm behind on everything. I'm behind on everything because I caught a little cold at the tail end of our vacation and have therefore been operating at low efficiency. Also, Wednesday was Pumpkin's birthday (OMG. She is 10. How did that happen?) AND she was in the 4th grade spelling bee (she came in 3rd!) AND we are having a party for her tomorrow. GAH. So much to do!

So, of course, I was thrilled to lose a couple of hours today to dealing with our taxes. First, the drive to our accountant's office took twice as long because I had to do it during the first part of rush hour. Before that, I was trapped at home waiting for a DHL delivery. On the bright side, the delivery was my kids' NZ passports and citizenship certificates.  It makes me happy to have those.

Then, I suffered extreme shock at the amount we owed. Some of that may turn out to be wrong. There is confusion about the retirement account I opened last year. So I spent almost an hour on the phone with Vanguard trying to understand that, then had to call my accountant back... and GAH. Why can't we make saving for retirement simpler?!?!?!

Anyhow, here I am, at the end of my workday, with several things I "had" to do today not done, but needing to go get the kids because they are going to a parent's night out thing so that Mr. Snarky and I can go finish the party shopping. GAH. Why must work and life always gang up on me?

So... here are the links.

This Noah Smith column kind of dovetails with my general crankiness about retirement savings. I know I'm doing a lot better than a lot of my fellow Gen-Xers, but honestly, I look ahead and don't see how we'll ever get to retire. (OK, that is mainly an emotional response. We're saving and doing what we're supposed to, but we have two kids who hit college when we're mid-50s, and what we most want to do in retirement is travel, and that is expensive. So... It just feels unattainable, even if maybe we will actually get to some place good. In fact, part of what I was trying to do by starting my own company was free up flexibility to travel more now, at the expense of probably working longer... This is getting too long for a parenthetical. Maybe it will be the topic of this month's Founding Chaos newsletter.)

Why the Gorsuch filibuster was worth it, even though Gorsuch is now confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice. I know my Republican friends will disagree with a lot (or maybe all) of what E.J. Dionne wrote there, but I'd recommend reading it if for no other reason that to try to understand why Democrats are so very mad right now.

And while we're talking about things that make Democrats angry: The failure of the ACA repeal bill is good news, but also infuriating.

Rebecca Traister's article about Trump and O'Reilly captures a lot of what I'm feeling looking at the situation as a woman. Frankly, I feel like a really large chunk of Republican men don't view me as a full human being, with my own goals and desires. They only see me (and other women) in terms of how we impact men. (And to continue to be frank: I think there is a non-negligible group of Democrat men who basically have the same problem, but just express it in different ways.)

This is a really thought-provoking post about the problem with autodidacts. I'm still thinking about it, in fact, since I'm someone who believes in "never stop learning." I guess I also believe in the value of formal training to give that learning a solid foundation.

In happier news:

Matt Yglesias makes the case for immigration.

Giving out naloxone to let addicts live to have another chance.

Vaccinating pregnant women for pertussis (whooping cough) protects the baby. This is HUGE, because there have been some really heartbreaking stories of brand new babies getting infected and dying.

This story is part nice and part infuriating, and all the way interesting: what happened when two Lisa S. Davises got tangled up in the DMV records.


Flamingos!




Bunnies!




And in amongst that, there was a pause to go get my kids, and now it is time to take them to the parent's night out and go have our romantic grocery shopping date.

Happy weekend everyone! I hope your tax returns are coming together more easily than mine are.



Monday, April 03, 2017

Spring Break

I'm just back from a short spring break vacation to Santa Monica and Santa Barbara. I'll do a trip story post about it soon, because I like to write up my vacations so that I can remember them better.

I wrote up a long post about some of the things I thought about during the driving part of the trip, when I wasn't quizzing Pumpkin on her spelling bee words. But when I reread it, it struck me as sort of boring, so I'll set it aside and come back to it later.

For now, I'll just say: vacations are a good thing. Seeing friends you haven't seen in awhile is a good thing. Sitting on the beach watching your kids play in the sand is a good thing.

Back when I first started thinking about changing my work arrangements to get more flexibility, one of the things I wanted was the freedom to travel more now, when I'm healthy enough to be able to do most things and when my kids are young enough to still want to go places with me. I wrote a post about it, but I can't find it right now. Regardless, I haven't really made that happen yet. As I drove the last leg of our trip home yesterday, I thought about that wish again. I'd still like to figure out how to make it happen. My kids are great travelers (mostly: there was a little bit of whining about being stuck in LA traffic, but a lot of people whine about being stuck in LA traffic) and getting out and seeing new things with them is a lot of fun. 

Anyone else have fun spring break plans? Do share.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Dinner during Dora: Easy Pizza

Long time readers may or may not remember that I was looking for a good pizza dough recipe. I have been meaning to post the pizza dough recipe I eventually settled on for a long time, but I kept forgetting to take pictures of the final product. I have finally assembled all of the pictures I need and I have a somewhat lazy Sunday morning going: I am sitting at my computer drinking tea while my kids play, but I don't really need to do any work.

So, I'll tell you about the pizza dough.

The recipe below is derived from the Smitten Kitchen Lazy Pizza dough that Today Wendy recommended. I made some changes because Pumpkin didn't care for the dough I made by following the original recipe. The rest of us liked it, but I was determined to find something everyone would like. My additions are a little whole wheat flour and some "green can cheese" (Kraft Parmesan in the can—I would have used cheese powder as recommended in one of the other recipes I found, but I didn't have any and my grocery store doesn't stock that and the whole point was for this to be easy.)

Easy Pizza Dough

2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cup water, plus more as needed to make a "craggy" dough that sticks together. I was using less water than needed at first, and the dough wasn't rising as much as it should have. The crust still tasted good, but it was a little dense and chewy. Live and learn.

Yeast, based on how long you're going to let the dough sit on the counter:
1/8 tsp for overnight + the next day
1/4 tsp for just the day
1/2 tsp for a half day (~6 hrs)

1/3 cup "green can" Kraft Parmesan cheese

Mix everything but the Parmesan cheese together in a big bowl, cover loosely with a tea towel, and let it stand for the desired amount of time. This is really quick, which is why I don't mind doing it in the morning. It takes five minutes to throw together, at most.

Dough, ready to rise

When you're ready to make your pizza, preheat your oven to 500 degrees F. Then add the Parmesan cheese and work it into the dough. I add about a third, fold the dough over, add another bit, fold the dough over, then add the rest and fold the dough over again. Then I fold and squeeze the dough until the cheese is worked in.

Dough, having risen.
Then shape your crust. I can't add anything to the instructions in the original Smitten Kitchen recipe here, so go read that. I do follow those instructions and spray cooking spray on my cookie sheets and then coat with cornmeal.

I may need to work on my crust shaping skills.
Top with your desired toppings. I make three pizzas: one for the grown ups, one with just sauce and cheese for Petunia, and one with just cheese for Pumpkin.

Bake at 500 degrees F for ~15 minutes. Then let it stand about 5 minutes so that you don't burn yourself cutting it.

The finished products.
Eat and enjoy!

Source: derived from the awesome Smitten Kitchen Lazy Pizza recipe.

Who eats it: Everyone!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Weekend Reading: The I'm Still Celebrating Edition

I am so happy that we saved the ACA! I know my efforts didn't make much of a difference: my Congressman was always against the repeal bill. But I'm still going to bask in this victory a bit, because we have a lot of hard fights ahead. We have to enjoy the ones win. Also, if millions of people keeping their insurance isn't cause for celebration, I don't know what is. 

(For the record, I know the ACA isn't perfect, and that some people still struggle to get good insurance they can afford. I want to see legislation that improves this situation, and I'll support such legislation, no matter which party introduces it. But the AHCA was not that legislation, not at all.)

Anyhow, I had a nice rollerblade and called it a victory lap.

On to the links.

Next week is the last week Caresaway will be in the Kindle Unlimited program. If you subscribe to that program and are tempted to read this book, now is your time!  On April 4, Caresaway will become available through BN.com, Kobo, GumRoad, and iBooks. You'll always be able to find the latest purchase links on the Caresaway homepage.

So, despite being really happy about the ACA not getting repealed, I don't have any links about that. Instead, here is a somewhat terrifying article about one group of scientists' roadmap for meeting the climate goal set by the Paris agreement. Add "we really need to stop using so much fossil fuels NOW" to the list of reasons coal jobs aren't coming back. I think that the sooner everyone acknowledges that, the better. Then we can move on to finding other industries that can bring prosperity to America's coal regions.

This Bloomberg article about conditions in Alabama's non-unionized auto parts plants is heartbreaking. 


Speaking of lies... turns out Eric Trump plans to report on the Trump Organization's financial status. There is no real separation between Trump the President and Trump the businessman, and that is bad for the rest of us.

And here's an appropriate quote a reader sent me:

"For many people the truth, it seemed, was what you wanted it to be, and if you asserted a falsehood long enough with sufficient conviction, then it would be believed, not only by those whom it was intended to deceive, but by you yourself. This enabled you to protest with real feeling when the fact was called into question."
 - Alexander McCall Smith in his novel The Bertie Project (44 Scotland Street Series)

Moving on...

This is a really interesting post about what might be going on with Trump and judges right now.



And now for the tweets. Here's a patch of California desert looking pretty:



Target does poetry:


All sorts of awesome:


BUNNY!


Happy weekend, everyone. Also, next week is spring break here, and I'll be playing more than working, so don't be surprised if no links post shows up next week. You know you can always go check out Nicoleandmaggie's links if you're in need of reading.... 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Assimilation is the Wrong Goal

When I was a kid, people worried that Latino immigrants to the US weren't assimilating like earlier European immigrants had. I don't remember the details, because it wasn't a topic we dwelt on in my house. I do remember a lot of hand-wringing in the media about the fact that Spanish was still spoken so much. I don't remember if I thought a lack of assimilation was a ridiculous thing to worry about given the obvious similarities between me and the my many Latino classmates. But I remember hearing about it. I remember later learning about the "No Irish need apply" days and telling my Mom I thought that maybe in time, the slurs I heard about Mexicans would seem as weird as the old slurs about the Irish, and I remember her trying to explain to me about why racism meant it wouldn't necessarily be that simple.

And she was right, it hasn't been, not at all. But those fears about assimilation turned out to be bunk. My kids now go to school with the grandchildren (and perhaps great-grandchildren) of the immigrants people were worried wouldn't assimilate. Remember, my kids go to a Spanish immersion school. Those immigrant families assimilated so well that now they have to send kids to school to become fluent in Spanish, just like I do.

In truth, I dislike the word "assimilate." It reminds me too much of the Borg from Star Trek. I also don't think it really describes what happened. We didn't absorb each wave of immigrants into an unchanging monoculture. Instead, each wave integrated with the people already here, and the result is the regional variation we take for granted. In many cases, the integration remains imperfect and incomplete, but that is usually because we've erected barriers, not because the people who came here want to remain separate.

Whenever I hear people talk about how the earlier waves truly "assimilated," I think that those people aren't looking hard enough. Remember this tweet I found so funny?




If you aren't from the Midwest and/or of Scandinavian descent, you probably have no idea what the hell lutefisk is, right? You betcha.

And don't forget about all the ethnic festivals we have. We are in the midst of planning our summer vacation (yeah, when you have to get your kids signed up for summer camp, you plan your summer early...) and our current plan involves driving across the I-80 in Nevada. Mr. Snarky was doing some research about places we might stop, and discovered the Elko Basque Festival. Sadly, I think we will miss it by a day. But it was such a random thing to discover in a town in the middle of such a sparsely populated part of Nevada that we actually considered trying to rework our schedule to catch the festival.

If you live in a city, there are probably ethnic festivals going on all the time. Here in San Diego, I've been to a Greek festival and a Polish festival. I love the Pacific Islands festival we have, and next year, I'm going to plan to go to the Diwali celebration at Balboa park instead of stumbling into it unprepared and being unable to stay for the best part. And there are more.

But even if you live in a small town, there is probably one ethnic festival: the one for the ethnic group that built your town, like the Basques in Elko.

So when I hear worries about Muslim immigrants not "assimilating," I just can't buy into it. I suspect they will "assimilate" just as much as any other group has: which is to say, they will integrate like every group before them, unless we screw it up with our fear-mongering. Heck, they will probably integrate despite our attempts to screw it up with our fear-mongering. Others in the past did.

I do not mean to imply that everything is roses. The warning my Mom gave child-me about the impact of racism remains. Racism is a poison in our society, and as my Mom said, it will complicate the story of these immigrants. But the fact remains that the only wave of immigrants that didn't integrate with the people already here was the first one.

That particular point of history should be enough to remind us that assimilation is the wrong goal. But even ignoring history and looking only forward, I think it is the wrong goal. It shuts us off from what we can learn from the people who come here. It sets up a goal that no other immigrant group has really met, and in doing so, I think it ignores one of the sources of our strength. Just like diverse teams do better work, I think a diverse country is likely to have a stronger, more resilient economy and society. Yes, there is a price to pay for diversity. Diverse teams have to work harder at communication and inclusivity, and so will a diverse nation. But that work pays off in access to a wider range of ideas to tackle problems, and a deeper understanding of the world.

So instead of expecting immigrants to assimilate, we should look for them to integrate, and set ourselves the goal of removing the barriers to integration erected by racism.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Weekend Reading: The Politics and Animals Edition

I didn't get my Friday rollerblade today, because my 4th grader had a special event at school. They do something called a wax museum. They each do a report on a famous person, then they dress up as that person and parents and other kids can come hear them deliver a spiel about their person. It was cool to see all the kids dressed up, and to walk around and get the spiels. There was a huge range of famous people selected. The kids were supposed to select someone with a connection to California, but they were pretty lenient in what that connection could be. Pumpkin was Amelia Earhart, and her connection to California was just that she ran a flight school here for a little while.

So, to the links.

I announced three new acquisitions for Annorlunda Books this week. Today, I spent a couple of hours working out the production schedules for those books and a Taster Flight I'd like to do.

In politics:

For St. Patrick's Day, Fintan O'Toole provides a reminder of the history of Irish immigration to the US, and how they were once the reviled, uneducated, poor immigrants.

Today's WTF moment was provided by someone in the White House including this satirical Alexandra Petri post about the budget in their roundup of links they sent out trying to show the budget in a favorable light. As I said on Twitter, this would be funny, except these people also have the power to declare war.

A bipartisan roadtrip shows that maybe we can still be friends across the partisan divide. I am still friends with several people who see politics differently than I do. I like them, which is why I'm friends with them, but I also like knowing people who think differently than me. (Except on some deal-breakers: I've ended friendships over racism.)

John Scalzi wrote about something similar, and his post and the article it links to are good to read, along with the comments on his post, which are generally thoughtful.

The Iowa Starting Line looks at why Western Iowa keeps electing Steve King.

Megan McArdle on the mistake Republicans are making when they cut taxes like they've done in Kansas.

I've said before that I've found Vox's coverage of healthcare really useful. Here is a long piece from Sarah Kliff and Ezra Klein about the lessons of Obamacare that the Republicans apparently did not learn. It is worth the time to read.

This Chris Ladd piece is really good, both in thinking about how we got to our weird system where our employers provide health insurance and in thinking about why Democrats are struggling with working class white people right now. I think the fact that white people are used to getting our government assistance in basically invisible ways has allowed a culture to develop in which more obvious assistance—even when less generous than the assistance people like me get—is seen to be a sign of weakness or failure, which understandably makes people less interested in receiving it. I know plenty of people who have held off signing up for the unemployment benefits due to them after a layoff, because they do not want to take "help." Nevermind that it is a program they've paid into, they feel ashamed to need it.

But of course, we're all taking assistance. I take a ginormous mortgage interest deduction on my taxes. We have a child care credit on our taxes. But because those are tax deductions, they don't trigger the shame, I guess.

There's a lot going on there that I am not at all qualified to assess. Add it to my list of things to read about at some point, I guess.

That's a lot of politics, but I don't have much else this week. Just some creepy animals turned to stone at an alkaline lake in Tanzania.

And a dog with the best "bullshit!" face you'll ever see:




And bunnies. Of course, I have bunnies.




Happy weekend, everyone. Time for me to go make pizza!


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Trip Story: Anza-Borrego and the Salton Sea

Last Saturday, we drove out to see the "super bloom" that is underway in the Anza-Borrego desert. We have had a lot of rain in Southern California this winter, and that means that there are more flowers than usual in bloom. We don't go out to see the desert wildflowers every year—it is a long drive, so the trip takes an entire day, and we get busy. But I really wanted to see them this year.

The advice was to go early, but the kids do gymnastics on Saturday morning, so we went in the afternoon. We headed out as soon as we could get organized after gymnastics. We stopped for a quick lunch in Ramona, and then drove to Anza-Borrego. It was a pleasant drive, until we were about halfway down the mountain pass going into town: then we caught up with the traffic jam. We crawled forward, which at least gave me the opportunity to take pictures like these:

Sadly, the best view of the desert lupins we got all day.
At least, I think that's what those purple flowers are.

If you aren't used to seeing ocotillo, you maybe don't realize how weird it is to see them this green.

Desert mountains

A little bit outside of town, we saw a lot of people pulled over, and decided to join them. We walked along looking at flowers, and even climbed a small hill.

Yes, Petunia wore her Elsa hat on the hike.

Pretty little flowers, like a carpet!

Pretty flowers intertwined with a cactus.

Close up on a flower whose name I do not know.

Cactus in bloom.

Happy to have at least seen some flowers up close, we decided to go to the park visitor's center. We didn't make it there. The line was too long, and Petunia needed a bathroom. So we went instead to a town park for a break, then decided to go see a couple of the flower fields that had been mentioned in the park info I'd looked up.

The second stop was amazing. It is hard to describe how beautiful it is to see a field of yellow flowers in a desert. My picture doesn't do it justice.

This was more impressive in person.

After that stop, we decided we'd seen enough flowers. We were also only about 30 minutes' drive from the Salton Sea, an inland lake that was created by an accidental water release from the Colorado River in 1905. (I won't go into details here, but although this particular event was man-made, there is evidence that similar events happened naturally over the centuries. If you want to know more, the Wikipedia article has some details.)

On our way to the Sea, we stopped to admire a little canyon that is popular with off-road vehicles.

We didn't see the dirt bikes while we were stopped, but we could hear them.

We approached from the Salton Sea from the west, via Salton City, which is a weird mix of inhabited and uninhabited buildings. Mr. Snarky said it reminded him of the computer game he is playing right now, which is set in a post-apocalyptic Nevada. We parked at an abandoned dock, and then walked out to the sea... over a field of bones.

At first you think it is shells.

Then you notice the little skeletons.

The bones are from fish, birds, and barnacles. The kids alternated between being excited to find cool bones and thinking it was creepy to be walking on so many dead things.

The sea itself is calm, and beautiful.

The water was eerily calm.

The Sea is a bird sanctuary.We didn't see many birds on our visit, though.

Oh, and there was dried mud. Petunia LOVED that. I still haven't cleaned that off our shoes. They are sitting in a plastic bag in the garage. It did, however, vindicate my decision to pack some wet wipes in the car bag.

Petunia thought the big mud flakes were super cool.
Pumpkin is looking at a bird skeleton, I think.
We lingered for awhile, then walked back to our car and drove away. We drove back west through Ocotillo, and drove back into the mountains. The drive through the desert towards the mountains may have been my favorite part of the day. The late afternoon light on the desert, with mountains in the distance turned purple-blue by the disappearing light is something special. I don't have any pictures of that, and I doubt the pictures would capture the magic, anyway. It was the sort of view that made me wish I could paint.

My plan was to have dinner in Julian, but in retrospect, that was a bad plan once we decided to stop at the Salton Sea. I knew that everything in Julian closes early. I knew that there was really only one restaurant that would be open and acceptable to my kids. There was no particular reason to go to Julian that day. We could have continued south from the Salton Sea and joined up with the 8 in El Centro, having dinner at one of the tried and true chains we've stopped at before on our many drives to Arizona.

But, for whatever reason, we drove to Julian. The road through the mountains was windy (I knew this, too) and Petunia felt a little queasy by the time we arrived. The restaurant wouldn't have a table for us for an hour, and there was nothing much to do since all of the shops were closed. Inexplicably, instead of just driving on to Wynola or even all the way to Ramona, we waited. We were seated and got our dinner eventually, but by that time, the kids were too tired to really eat. Mr. Snarky and I enjoyed our meals, though. Then we loaded the kids into the car and I drove us home. The kids got to bed very late that night, but that didn't really bother them the next day. So I guess all is well that ends well.

Still, I wonder if I'll be able to convince them to go back to Julian during the daytime someday, or if I've spoiled it for them. It really is a cute little town when things are open, and they might not eat the apple pie for which the town is famous, but I do.... Maybe I'll put it on next year's family fun list.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Weekend Reading: The Short Because I Mostly Slept Edition

I think spring is officially here in San Diego. We're back to our usual beautiful weather. 

I am getting over a cold that absolutely knocked me flat last weekend. I'm mostly better now, but decided to substitute a low key walk for my usual rollerblade. I almost went back to the same beach I walked on with the kids on Wednesday, but decided that I'd just go down to the bay instead. It was nice. Not as nice as a rollerblade, but I wanted to conserve energy because tomorrow we're probably going to drive out to Anza-Borrego to see the wildflowers, and since Mr. Snarky is also getting over the cold, and was not as wise as I was about resting and is therefore still feeling not so great... I'll probably do the driving.

Anyway, if I get some good wildflower photos, I'll post them.

In the meantime, how about some links to read? I don't have that many. I guess I mostly slept off my cold instead of reading things. But here's what I have:

Self-promo first: if you hurry, you can probably still snag the ebook version of Don't Call It Bollywood for just $0.99. The sale ends tonight. 

For politics this week, I have a couple of posts about healthcare. Both are from left-leaning sites, but both are also pretty wonky. Healthcare isn't one of the issues I picked to do a deep dive on, so this is as wonky as I get on the topic. 

First up, Josh Marshall with why repeal and replace is going badly.


I had a short Twitter thread about the latter of those articles. It starts here:


Like I said, I didn't choose to do a deep dive on healthcare, so I am definitely not an expert on the issues. I do think we can get everyone at least basic coverage without going broke or falling into tyranny, because every other wealthy country in the world has found a way to do that. I also think that there are honest arguments against doing that, but (1) I'm not convinced by them, and (2) those are not the arguments Republicans chose to make against the ACA. 

I also think that there are valid criticisms of the ACA, and I mention one of them in that thread. Of course, no one on the left ever said that the ACA is perfect, and I have not seen anyone on the left argue against fixing the problems some mid-income self-employed people had with rising premiums.

More politics on a topic on which I claim no expertise: Noah Smith about the impossibility of going back to an earlier industrial era. I should read more on this topic, because I'd like to know about the argument against what this piece is saying. I don't think we can go back to the jobs that white working class men are used to having, so I think we should be focusing on how to soften the transition to a different set of jobs. However, this is clearly not a universal opinion. I'd like to understand the counterargument (that we can bring back industrial jobs). I've had a couple of pointless twitter discussions with people on the subject, where we talk past each other. People are keen to argue to me about that we should help the men whose jobs are disappearing, but I already agree with that. I want to know why people think that the help can take the form of bringing back industrial jobs, because everything I've read so far implies that is folly to attempt.

Moving on... did you see the Twitter thread from the guy who swapped names with a female coworker in emails and was blown away by how much shittier people were to him? If so, you might like to read the woman's version of the story. (They are friends, there is no controversy, just a different focus.)

How about some fun stuff?


Laughing at this spelling bee comic feels like blasphemy, but I can't help it.

Grumpy bunny!


That's all I have this week. Happy weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

A Change in Plans

Our school is undergoing a major renovation. The entire project is supposed to take two years, and is much needed. However, construction occasionally causes inconvenience, usually because they need to shut off the water after school, and that causes our after care to close.

Today was one of those days. They told us yesterday, which made me very happy that Wednesdays are one of my usual work at home days. However, Wednesdays are also a half day at school, so the early after care closing meant I had to pick the kids up by 2 p.m. I thought I might let the kids watch TV while I tried to finish my work day, but as I walked the kids to school in the morning (because of course, this was also the day Mr. Snarky had his green card renewal appointment), I decided that instead, I'd take the late notice as a sign that I should just go enjoy the beautiful weather with my kids.

And that is what we did. I had almost finished my "must do" list by the time I picked them up. Luckily, they had birthday cards to write for Mr. Snarky and my sister, and that and having a snack kept them occupied while I finished the last few things I needed to do. Then we wrapped the gifts to go with the cards and headed out for some fun.

Our first stop was my local indie bookstore. My book club is reading March, by John Lewis, this month, and since I wanted that in physical form, not as an ebook, I decided to buy local. They had to order it for me (they are primarily a sci-fi and mystery bookstore, but they are awesome: check out Mysterious Galaxy if you're ever in San Diego!) so I needed to go back to pick it up. I thought Pumpkin might like the store, since they have a nice middle grade/YA section. And she did. She loved it, in fact. I suspect I'll be taking her back there often. I let each kid pick a book, because I am a soft touch when it comes to books. And how could I say no when Petunia picked Ada Twist, Scientist?

After we got our books, we went and got ice cream. And then we headed to the beach. I have been meaning to take a celebratory walk on the beach for a little while: I have the Amazon release of Caresaway and paperback release of Unspotted to celebrate, so even if I'm not quite there on my Tungsten Hippo mailing list goal yet... I felt I deserved a walk on the beach. Why not do it with the kids?

I didn't get my usual deep thought time during this walk, but I did get a lot of smiles, and that is a good trade. It was in the mid-70s today, and sunny. The beach was beautiful and we found some nice shells. Petunia also found a lot of not so nice shells that she brought home, anyway. She always does. If anyone needs any shells, we have you covered.

Looking for shells

Pumpkin fell in love with some driftwood and insisted on bringing that home, I don't know why. She says she is going to decorate it. I am curious to see how that goes. But most importantly, they laughed and ran away from the waves, and just had fun. And so did I.

Having fun
I'll pay for this afternoon, either with some extra hours in my Sunday "make up" session or by squeezing some more hours in next week. But it was worth it.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Weekend Reading: The I Rollerbladed When I Should Have Worked Edition

It was so beautiful here today. I wasn't going to go for a rollerblade, because I had to take time out of the day to take my tax info to my accountant, but it was too beautiful of a day not to go out. I will pay for this by having to do my accounting over the weekend. It is the first Friday of the month, which is when I usually do my monthly accounting and I only get it partway done. Plus it is time to send out author royalty statements, and I barely started on that. So instead of doing fun work like writing during my Sunday morning work session, I'll be doing accounting. Bleh. But the rollerblade was worth it.

Anyway, to the links.

Self promo first: I'm running a GoodReads giveaway for the paperback version of Unspotted.

I've also decided to pick a random Annorlunda mailing list subscriber each month to send a promo code for a free ebook. If you want in on that, here's the mailing list sign up page.

Now the politics:

Josh Marshall had an interesting post in which he tried to come up with an innocent explanation for the Russia story that still fits all the known facts.

The leaks coming out of DHS undermine the national security argument for the Muslim travel ban. It has been clear all along that this was coming from the Bannon/Miller wing of the administration, and therefore I've never been inclined to buy the national security argument. The argument about immigrants not assimilating and the risk of replicating the issues seen in places like Brussels ignores some really key differences between the US and Europe, in my opinion. It also ignores evidence that immigrants from these countries have been assimilating just fine here in the US. If you only judge assimilation based on whether or not women wear hijab, you're really not thinking hard enough. There is nothing about being American that requires letting people see your hair. My non-expert opinion is that if you want immigrants to assimilate the main thing you have to do is treat them fairly and give them a chance to succeed. This travel ban does the opposite.

I've mostly stuck to my self-imposed rule that I'm not going to get into Democratic party strategy arguments (either in real life or in what I read online), but I read this story from a long-time labor reporter about the new DNC chair Tom Perez, and it made me feel better. So I'll pass it along for any of you who might also appreciate such a thing.

I could post a bunch of immigration stories, but I think I'll try to write an actual post about the topic sometime soon instead.

Instead, enjoy this interview with Gilda Wabbit, the drag queen who was in the "this is the future liberals want" photo that went viral earlier this week. Here is a quote from her:

"I won’t speak for all liberals, but I’d like to see a future where it isn’t a big deal for a woman in full modesty garb to sit next to a drag queen in NYC. It’s become a bit of a sensation, but her and I were just existing. The freedom to simply be yourself in a sea of people who aren’t like you is a freedom we all deserve."

Sign me up for that future, please.

Here is a less happy subway story (h/t @NeedhiBhalla). The point about there being no good option when you experience discrimination is a really good one.

This short article from an emergency room doctor who has to tell people Trump is president is a good read.

Here is an article about the same news story being spun two different ways by the same company. Basically, this company is profiting off of ratcheting up partisanship. We, as a society, are going to have to figure out how to handle this sort of thing in our internet/social media age. We're taking steps towards that now, but they are baby steps.

If you somehow didn't see the incredible (and incredibly sad) essay in the NY Times today from a woman writing a dating profile for her soon to be widowed husband... go read it. But you will probably cry. In my inbox this morning, I had an email from a friend letting me know that her husband had died. My friend is older than me, and her husband was older than her and quite ill, so it was not a surprise. But still, reading that email and then reading that essay destroyed me.

So I guess I need to find something happy to end on. But I don't really have anything, so....

BUNNY!




BUNNIES!




That's all for this week. Happy weekend!

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Weird Day

This has been a weird day.

I sat down to do my usual Wednesday morning activism and was stopped by the realization that I didn't feel comfortable doing the first thing on my listwriting a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Kelly urging him to make sure our immigration policies are not enforced in a cruel and dehumanizing mannerwas not something I felt comfortable doing while my husband's green card renewal is pending.

And that realization depressed me so much that I couldn't muster the willpower to make any other calls. I did donate to Mi Familia Vota and Jon Ossoff's campaign in the special election in Georgia.

I thought I might have a hard time focusing on work, but posting my Tungsten Hippo recommendation for the week helped me snap out of my funk a bit. I downloaded this week's book on a whim and ended up really enjoying it. It is the sort of book that will stick with me for awhile. You can probably expect a future blog post about what it means to be well even if you are not fully healthy (in my case, I will always have asthma and a somewhat screwed up right arm from an old repetitive strain injury).

I struggled a bit until lunch time, but did some good work for a client after lunch, then went for a run and enjoyed what was really a glorious day, and came back and just powered through my to do list.

In the end, I finished everything on my to do list (which is rare: I aim to have one or two items as "stretch goals" for the day) and even picked something else off my office kanban board and finished that.

When I finished work for the day, the news was still all about Trump's speech last night. I didn't watch it, because why listen to someone who always lies? But I found the fawning coverage of his ability to tell his lies without sounding unhinged depressing, so I figured it would be another night of a self-imposed news blackout.

I walked to my kids' school and picked them up, made dinner, and enjoyed talking to my kids about their day while we ate. Then my phone buzzed. It turned out to be a missing child alert (that child has been found, safe). But while I had my phone in my hand, I opened Twitter... and holy cow, my timeline was on fire with the news about Sessions. And with justification. He lied during his confirmation hearing about contacts with Russian officials. He was at one point and may still be a target of an investigation into contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence. He must recuse himself from the ongoing investigation. A special prosecutor must be named. In a normal administration, he'd be resigning, too. But this is not a normal administration, so my money is on him trying to hang on and more damaging things coming out until he is finally forced to resign. Of course, I could wake up tomorrow morning to find he's resigned. Who knows.

I am more convinced than ever that if we actually get an independent investigation into this entire mess, people will end up in jail. But I am not convinced we'll get that investigation, or at least not in a timely manner. I have resigned myself to having to wait until after the 2018 election for a proper investigation. If the Democrats don't take the House in that election, though, we might not get one even then.

Meanwhile, the horrifying VOICE policy will be enacted. The administration will continue to vilify and dehumanize immigrants, particularly immigrants with brown skin.  They will continue to ignore hate crimes committed against people with brown skin. They will continue to ignore the rising Antisemitism. An alarming number of Americans will cheer this. An even more alarming number will just go along, perhaps because they don't want to offend the ones cheering by implying they might be racist, perhaps because they just don't want to think about it.

We are in a race. Can we get rid of this administration, or at least the worst actors in it, before they lead us to do something so horrific and shameful that future generations of schoolchildren read about it and wonder how we could have let such a thing happen?

I do not know the answer to that. I do not know how best to try to win the race. I guess I will rally and call my Senators and Representative tomorrow morning to let them know I think Sessions should resign and that I want them to pressure him to do so. I will continue to fax the House Oversight Committee (since their voice mail is always full) to tell them they should investigate the myriad conflicts of interest swirling around this administration. I will raise my small voice and contradict the dehumanization of immigrants, documented and undocumented. I will speak up against Antisemitism and Islamophobia and racism as the poisons of our society that they are.

That is all I know how to do. I do not know if it will be enough.

And I have started my meditative yoga practice again, because I think my days are going to be weird for awhile and I need to find a way to cope that doesn't turn me into one of those people going along with something horrifying just because I don't want to think about the mess we're in.

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